CEO Leadership Series:
Allan Wille

4 minutes, 12 seconds reading time

If you haven’t read CEO Allan Wille’s Startup Founder blog on Klipfolio’s website you should. The posts are practical yes AND his insights on important topics (like inclusiveness and diversity) are candid and real.

Klipfolio was founded in 2001 by Allan and his business partner Peter Matthews with the goal of building work-class dashboards for their clients. They succeeded! In 2017 they were recognized by Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50 (a program that recognizes Canadian technology companies for their entrepreneurial spirit, innovation, rapid revenue growth, and world-class achievements). Recently they reached a new milestone, moving into a new headquarters (in the well-known former movie theatre at the World Exchange Plaza in Ottawa).

Top 20 Questions

Your best/worst subject in school?

Best: Physics
Worst: Economics

What was your first job?
Other than delivering newspaper and cutting lawns, my first real job was the midnight shift in a vinyl siding factory. It was good money at the time.

Best advice you ever took?
From my physics teacher - simple but life-long: “You are responsible”.

Tip you would share with this years graduating class?
Everyone will tell you that you need to follow your passion and be among the best at what it is you do. And that is true, but above and beyond this, think bigger and take more risks. That’s how you will change the world.

What book are you reading?
Recently finished "Start with Why" and "Lead by Greatness"

Favorite quote?
"Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful." -- Albert Schweitzer

One thing that surprises you about business?
That excelling at business, and for that matter, anything in life, is really all about people.

What motivates you?
Happy employees, happy customers.

When was the last time you worked a 40 hour work week?
I’m a fan of being home every day for dinner. I immensely value balance. The truth is, as CEO, you never really stop thinking about your business (nor do you want to).

What is the best (most recent) feedback you received from one of your employees?
Be visible, be accessible - and do your rounds.

When are you most productive?
Often early in the morning or late at night.

Best thing about being a CEO?
Surrounding myself with awesome people, customers, advisors and partners.

Most challenging thing about being a CEO?
The continuous need to prioritize.

What is one word that describes your leadership style?

You have____ in your office?

An experience that has influenced you the most as a leader?
There are two that come to mind. I’ll never forget the massively humbling and exciting feeling that came with delivering our nascent product to our very first customer. And secondly, the small and generally non-work things done to help or assist a colleague.

A CEO that inspires you?
Though there are many who are truly amazing people and leaders, I’ve never really looked up to a CEO.

If you weren’t a CEO you would be?
I’ve always had a passion for design; graphic design in particular. I studied Industrial Design at school.

An organization that you always make time for?
I value organizations and purposes that forward education and health for children.

Favorite app?
Klipfolio dashboard of course!

As you continue to scale the Klipfolio team what remains one of your go to interview questions to ask a candidate?
Of the company that you are leaving, how would you have changed things. This question is a good indicator of how a candidate understood the vision and mission and can tie what they do to the outcomes of the business.

You recently completed an exciting (and big!) move into your new headquarters, how has the move and the new space impacted your culture?
We very much have a collaborative, face-to-face working culture, which is now made easier by being on a single floorplate.

If you were only able to recommend one, what is the most important HR metric that every company needs to measure now and why?
Employee happiness, which to me is the measurable result of engagement and retention. Recognizing the entire team on the company website is unique! What are other ways that you show your employees appreciation and recognize their efforts? There are many ways we do this, both in private and in public settings. Spot awards, shout outs at monthly all-hands, or via our #gratitude channel in Slack. We have hack-days, and training time. There are team-bonding events and charity events that all bring people together and highlight appreciation.

We noted that Klipfolio invests in future talent by hiring co-op students. Why is hiring students an important part of Klipfolio’s talent management strategy?
We hire co-op students in all departments and engage them in real world, production effort. Students bring energy and new ideas, they bring an opportunity to both learn from and coach. And of-course beyond this, they are a very important future recruiting pool for us.